Marvel Studios did a great job wrapping up Iron Man’s story in Avengers: Endgame, but it forgot to address one key narrative before his death: Bucky.
Marvel Studios wrapped up Tony Stark’s story in a satisfying way in Avengers: Endgame, except for one key storyline they forgot to resolve – Bucky killed his parents. It was revealed in Captain America: Civil War that Howard and Maria Stark didn’t die from an accident, as Tony originally though. Instead, they were murdered by the HYDRA-brainwashed Winter Soldier. This effectively created a wedge between the genius, billionaire and Steve Rogers, who apparently knew all about it but decided to keep it as a secret.
After their devastating loss to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, the remaining heroes went on their separate ways, with Tony checking out on his superhero gig and focused on living a quiet family life with Pepper Potts and daughter Morgan. He had to come out of retirement, however, when the possibility of bringing back those who perished in Thanos snap came via a time heist. Aside from collecting all six Infinity Stones from different points in time, the mission also gave Tony the opportunity to see his father again. This finally gave him the closure he badly needed to let go of his grudge toward him. However, it doesn’t fully resolve the death of Howard and Maria Stark, but that’s not exactly the case.
Tony made up with Steve prior to the time heist, admitting that resentment is corrosive. They didn’t delve into the details of their rift but had a mutual understanding of putting everything behind them and focusing on the task at hand. However, while Tony did make amends with Steve, he wasn’t able to do so with Bucky. In fact, they didn’t even get to have any interaction before Iron Man’s death. Marvel could argue that, between deciding to let go of his guilt and having the opportunity to see his dad again, Tony should be enough to resolve this, but it’s not enough. Tony’s anger towards Bucky was mostly rooted in him murdering his Mom – something that Endgame didn’t address at all since Tony only saw Howard, not Maria.
Marvel Studios could’ve easily resolved this issue in Endgame’s 3-hour runtime. Similar to how the reunion between Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Iron Man played out, Endgame could’ve featured a brief encounter between Tony and Bucky. Perhaps Iron Man could’ve come to the Winter Soldier’s rescue, with the two sharing a knowing nod that makes clear Bucky is forgiven prior to Tony’s death. It didn’t need to be a drawn-out interaction like Tony and Cap’s reconciliation, but just a moment of proof that there’s no more bad blood between them.
While Marvel Studios missed the opportunity for a short exchange between Tony and Bucky to explicitly show that they’ve made peace with their ugly history in Avengers: Endgame, that doesn’t mean that the latter can no longer make amends. Granted, the Winter Soldier was brainwashed, but he can still make it up to those he terrorized while operating as a HYDRA agent. As he’s slowly going back to his former self, teaming up with Sam as the new Captain America in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Bucky can do a lot of good moving forward. However, he can also specifically make amends to Tony by paying it forward with his remaining family members. If Marvel Studios decides to involve Morgan Stark in the MCU’s future, perhaps she and Bucky can have an encounter where they can discuss Tony and his parents.